Activities in the Sarlat area. Our accommodation in self catering holiday homes near Sarlat in the Perigord Noir region of Dordogne
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Sarlat is a town not to be missed during a visit to the Dordogne whether it's for a gentle meander or a shopping spree. Renowned for its restaurants, local delicacies and fine wines, it is one of the prettiest and most historic medieval market towns in France. The town, with a truly relaxed and laid back atmosphere, is the jewel of Perigord Noir and is arguably the gastronomic capital of the Dordogne. The medieval buildings that fill the town are the perfect backdrop for the large, colourful, twice weekly market, full of local fruit and vegetables and all the tastiest delights of the area, not to mention all the clothing, jewellery, gifts and trinkets you would expect to find at a market of this magnitude. The restaurants, cafes and bars offer a superb choice to suit all your needs. There is a regular array of subtle street entertainment both during the day and evening, adding to the ambience and atmosphere of the town. Sarlat is the perfect place to wine and dine, or just relax and enjoy a coffee, watching the world go by.
Walking in Dordogne is a great way to take in the views and the Dordogne is a walkers paradise. We are keen to promote walking from our gites and are currently building a specialised page aimed at walkers which will soon be added to our site. The area is inundated with countless walks through some of the best countryside France has to offer. We have local detailed maps available and a selection of the 20 prettiest walks in the area, one of which starts outside our back door. The Dordogne is a stunningly beautiful part of France and its woods and valleys are criss-crossed with hundreds of walks. The whole Dordogne region is suitable for walking - away from the main routes even the roads are quiet enough to walk all year around. A good book of walks for the Dordogne area is 'Walking in the Dordogne by Cicerone'.
Pretty Market Towns and Villages pepper the countryside, there are too many to mention individually and should you decide to stay for a month you will still go home without seeing them all. Click on the link on our links page for full detail of all the villages in the surrounding area.
Rocamador is simply stunning with scenery to take your breath away and is the second most visited site in France. It is a town perched on the side of a rock with narrow winding streets and very pretty buildings. There are numerous attractions here including a walk through the monkey sanctuary and the Rock of Eagles, both of which we highly recommend, caves, light shows, aquarium, etc etc.
Canoeing is a very popular pastime for all the family and canoe hire stations are dotted all along the banks of the Dordogne. Hire a Kayak from one station and gently drift downstream following the flow of the river taking in the magnificent riverside chateaux, stop for a picnic, or a swim, then off hire at another station where transport is provided back to your original hire point. An absolute must and a great day out.
Caves / Grottes ('grottes' in French) fall into two categories - caves that are famous for the prehistoric paintings and carvings that they contain and were inhabited by Trogladyte; and caves that are more renowned for their rock formations - stalactites, stalagmites, and other curious shapes formed by the effects of water over thousands of years. Both types of cave are equally fascinating. It is not possible to view the cave paintings without feeling a strange connection with our ancestors that once stood in exactly the same place, or to stand in one of the great underground caverns without being overawed by the beauty of nature.
Lascaux 4 Caves are reputed to contain the earliest cave drawings ever discovered and are a mystical place to visit. Uncovered only recently the caves are a major tourist site and attract visitors from all over the world. The caves of Lascaux are regarded as the number one place to visit in 2017 great for adults and children alike (advance booking recommended). In September 1940, Marcel Ravidat found a cavity on Lascaux Hill. On the 12th September 1940, he came back with Gerorges Agniel, Simon Coencas and Jacques Marsal. The 4 young boys decided to explore the hill, they made the cavity larger so as to slip into the cave. Just with a lamp. They were the first ones to discover the painting caves. They found some great and unique treasures… The Lascaux cave is the finest of all prehistoric painted caves made by Cro Magnons man.
Font de Gaume cave is the last cave containing prehistoric polychrome paintings which is still open to the public. Others like the nearby Lascaux caves and Altamira caves in Spain have had to close due to the damage caused by carbon dioxide in the breath of visitors. To preserve its paintings Font de Gaume restricts the number of visitors who can enter the caves each day. Whilst the caves were known to locals they were only 'discovered' and their importance realised in 1901. The paintings were made during the Magdalenien period at about 17 000 years BC.
There are more than 200 polychrome paintings in the caves. The majority of these are bison and the next largest group is horses. Interestingly the main food group at the time was reindeer but this is not the main animal depicted. Horses were not generally eaten by pre-historic man and yet these are one of the most frequently painted animals. There are also mammoths painted on the walls of Font de Gaume. Only about 30 of the paintings can be seen during the tour but apparently these are the best ones. As well as paintings there are also engravings on the walls and, interestingly, even the paintings first had the outline carved into the rock before being 'coloured in'. The main colours used are black, red and a mix of the two giving a brown colour.The natural contours of the rock were used to emphasise the shape of the animals indicating a sophistication previously unexpected for pre-historic man. As at Lascaux there are also symbols painted and engraved whose meaning we have not yet discovered.
Swimming facilities surround us and you have a wide choice dependant on how you like your water. Obviously there is the pool in the garden but if you also wish to vary your surroundings there are natural swimming lakes, water parks, areas of the Dordogne river and public pools.
Golfing is available in abundance with over a dozen courses within 5 to 60 kms which vary in terms of size and standards. All contact details are available on request.
Horse Riding through the countryside or structured lessons are both situated close by and are available for all ages, whether you are a novice or an experienced rider.
Cycling is also a very popular pastime. We have the contact details of some very reliable local high companies. They deliver and collect good quality professional bikes at very competitive prices. Alternatively you can hire a bike for the day from varying locations. Although the Dordogne is hilly there are lots of areas designated to cyclists of all ages that are flat and much easier on the legs. These are often old railway routes and go through some lovely countryside and along the river.
Le Bugue Aquarium is another attraction for all the family which comes highly recommended. With a vast array of fish and other water born animals the feeding times (which are regular) are a must for adults and children alike.
Fishing, either in the river or private lakes is a great way to absorb the peace and tranquillity of the area. There are several lakes open to day visitors and a huge choice of picturesque spots along the rivers. Short term permits are required and can be easily obtained locally.
Tennis courts can be hired all around the region the closest being at a local camp site 1.5 kms away.
Other attractions for all ages and interests are in abundance and the brochures and details are available in the gite as perusal. These include air parks, mountain biking, quad biking, para gliding, water parks, paint ball, karting, hot air ballooning, wine tasting trips, etc etc.
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